Eli, 9, replicates Van Gogh classic

Eli Williams replicated the self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh.

A nine-year-old Constantia boy has reproduced a self portrait of Vincent van Gogh, the famous Dutch painter (see picture on page 1).

Van Gogh completed more than 2100 works, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1 300 watercolours, drawings and sketches.

He is also a source of much inspiration for Eli Williams, a Grade 3 pupil at Sweet Valley Primary School in Bergvliet.

Eli has been drawing and painting almost since he was old enough to grip a paintbrush. “I started loving painting when I was about four or three years old but not as much as I love it now.”

This is his first oil painting.

“I could have chosen lots of other artists; I chose Van Gogh because he inspires me in a way.”

Eli dreams of becoming a robotics engineer and a professional artist.

His reproduction of the Van Gogh work featured at The Gallery in Riebeek-Kasteel in an called In With The New, which required participating artists to put their own contemporary spin on classic artworks.

This is what sparked Eli’s idea of doing the Van Gogh self portrait without a beard. The piece is titled Repainted.

Eli’s talent seems to run in the family.

His grandmother is Therese Mullins, a renowned Cape Town- based artist who has been a top achiever in the Sanlam Portrait Awards and most recently was a finalist in the 2017 Living Portrait Master Competition.

She coached Eli through the process of finishing the Van Gogh portrait and motivated him to have his work displayed at the exhibition.

“I love painting with Eli. We’re like old soul mates,” she said.

“When I finished it, I felt proud and happy that it was done with, and it had even taken my birthday weekend,” said Eli.

“We started early in the morning, and I had to really speed up on finishing the painting because I went on a three-week holiday with my family, during the school holiday’s”

Eli’s mother, Julie Williams, is extremely proud of her son.

“We realised that he was really good at drawing, when I looked back on things that he has been doing before he turned four, like 3D cattle pictures and amazing owls that he was doing at about three and a half.

“Then I realised wow this is special and he has always just loved it. He sometimes sits and gets lost in doing art and every now and then there would be a stroke of genius.”

Astrid McLeod, the owner and curator of The Gallery said she was very pleased to have Eli’s in the exhibition.

“Eli’s grandfather, Allan Mullins, has been a friend of mine since childhood, and it is wonderful to watch such talent developing in Eli. I suspect he will go far.”